Although Steve Jackson Games does not have any shareholders (other than Steve Jackson himself), it does have a lot of people that take part in its success.  The company refers to these folks as stakeholders and their annual report is directed towards them (employees, distributors, retailers, designers, artists, volunteers, and people who play their games).  The annual Stakeholders Report gives a transparent look at some of the inner workings of Steve Jackson Games.

Munchkin and Zombie Dice, the evergreen games of the Steve Jackson Games (SJG) lineup, dropped to $5.5 million (down $500,000) from last year. Even with the drop in sales of these titles, SJG anticipates a break even or slightly profitable year. Due to the decline in sales, SJG plans to try and keep the top ten Munchkin games and expansions available at all times, but everything else will see out-of-stock times with the possibility of going away for the immediate future.

SJG is making slow progress with their employee manual and acknowledges the need to finish this to have more established processes in-house.  Additionally, the company is having a hard time meeting deadlines without involvement from upper management.

Those were the low points of 2017, but there were some high points, too.  The Fantasy Trip, a roleplaying game, is being worked on for Kickstarter.  This is Jackson’s first RPG from 1977, published by Metagaming.  When Metagaming went out of business, the rights to the game were in limbo, but SJG has since secured the rights.

Munchkin still receives a lot of attention from SJG and Munchkin Shakesphere, Munchkin Spell Skool, and the Munchkin Gift Pack all did well in 2017.  The Munchkin Collectible Card Game is set to go on sale on February 21, 2018, as well and is receiving a lot of attention due to the collaboration from Eric Lang and Kevin Wilson.

Steve Jackson Games also partnered with CMON and Asmodee Digital.  Their partnership with CMON allows CMON to create Munchkin-themed board games.  Their partnership with Asmodee Digital is aimed at bringing a Munchkin video game to fans.

In addition to all of these exciting things, the Ogre Video Game launched in October, Munchkin Valentines sold well, the forums remain active, and GURPS added on-demand printing to Amazon.

SJG saw mixed success/failure with the Ogre Miniatures Set 1 (behind on delivery), Ogre Reinforcements (slow sales), and Ghosts Love Candy (reprint was stopped).  SJG changed their staffing structure to try to focus the creative team on making games, but it didn’t work out as planned and the company is exploring new ideas.

Steve Jackson Games saw failure with the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (took a lot of time from upper management and is costly, but selling well), Port Royal (cheaper European copies are outselling SJG copies), and sjgames.com (it’s an old site that requires a lot of attention).

SJG’s priorities for 2018 are to support the Munchkin CCG, complete all outstanding Kickstarter commitments, maintain support of the original Munchkin games with a new tuck box expansion set and two or three new base games, and launch a successful new edition of Car Wars on Kickstarter with a 2019 or 2020 delivery date.

There’s more covered in the Stakeholder’s report, but this gives a glimpse at 2017 for Steve Jackson Games.

Cool Mini or Not posted a nice retrospective of the early Zombicide franchise to their Feature Friday newsletter this week. The original “modern series” started with a Kickstarter in April 2012 for Zombicide: Season One, which introduced players to the frantic world of walkers, runners, fatties and abominations. Arguably the first introduction to CMoN Kickstarter campaigns, with their unbelievable amount of stretch goals, add-ons and exclusive items, 2-6 players could run through the streets as more and more zombies chased them down. The next year brought Zombicide: Prison Outbreak, which introduced Berserkers to the claustrophobic halls and rooms of the prison.  The final installment to the modern trilogy came in 2015 with Zombicide: Rue Morgue, bringing Skinner zombies, A-Bomb Abominations and more of the mayhem that made Zombicide great to a fallen hospital. If there just wasn’t enough, the games were supplemented by two official released expansions, The Toxic City Mall and Angry Neighbors. All of Guillotine Games’ Zombicide games are known for the overflowing bins of beautiful miniatures, tons of insane playable characters, and boards full of walking, creeping, oozing dead. Read all about the history of the first Zombicide trilogy on the CMoN website here.

CMoN has also announced some new components for their popular d20 28mm sci-fi skirmish game, Dark Age. Two new big boxes are coming soon, one for the Outcast and one for the Skarrd. The Outcast Starter Set includes a 500 point force, playable with any Outcast group. Other Outcast releases coming are the Outcast Faction Deck with 54 new cards, and the Outcast Brute Court of Freeton, containing infamous leaders for your squad. The new Skarrd Cult of Metamorphosis is a cult of grafted, mutated biological nightmares lead by the infamous Father Johann and his servants. Smaller releases, such as the Harpy Unit Box and the return of the Brood Spawn Howler round off units for the Skarrd. Read all about the upcming Dark Age sets on the CMoN website here.

Fantasy Flight Games have previewed their latest unit expansion for the upcoming Star Wars: Legion war game – The AT-RT.

The All Terrain Recon Transport costs only 55 points – a fraction of it’s bigger AT-ST cousin and is considerably more mobile. The lighter unit won’t be stopped by walls or barricades, climbing over them easily and also has the same heavy armor. As with all unit expansions, the AT-RT comes with a full compliment of interchangeable upgrade cards each with matching sculpts to attach to the miniature. Weapons include a Rotary Blaster, Laser Canon and naturally the Flame Thrower!

Not to be let down in it’s short game, the AT-ST can also make use of those legs to stomp a mud hole in any unit foolish enough to attempt a point-blank assault. Other features include the option of a long-range communications link for fast responses anywhere on the battlefield or a communications jammer if you prefer the chance to shut down your opponents ability to send orders.

The AT-RT Unit Expansion Set for release on March 22nd 2018 along with the Star Wars: Legion Core Set and seven other expansions. For an overview of the base game checkout the Miami Dice Official Review, with Tom & Sam.

 

The biggest push in bringing board gaming to mobile devices and PCs has no doubt come from Asmodee, or specifically Asmodee Digital. We’ve written about this quite a few times on this site, and in fact one of my very first articles I wrote for Dice Tower News was about Asmodee doing really cool things to bring good games to a broader market. While we do have to rely on their analysis and apparent drive to see how effective their efforts have been, the spread of board gaming to virtual platforms is undoubtedly healthy for the community and industry as a whole if only for exposure reasons. This is why it’s such big news that Asmodee has partnered with Kingnet to bring their titles to the Chinese market. As announced by Asmodee:

 “Asmodee, a leading global games publisher and distributor, today announced it has entered into a strategic partnership with Kingnet, a preeminent Chinese mobile games development studio and internet content and services provider. Founded in 2008, Kingnet operates many popular games including Skyscraper, Shushan Legend and MU Miracle. Through this partnership, Kingnet will license select Asmodee content and develop and distribute original mobile games for the growing Chinese user base.”

This is no small matter, as that kind of exposure to that large of a market is bound to grow interest in strategy and social gaming, and can also inspire those players towards new designs. Despite how crazy Asmodee’s outreach and growth may seem over the past few years, we have to congratulate them and Kingnet for seeking new horizons like this. My curiosity is now poised on what effect, if any, this push will have on the counterfeit board games issue. While Asmodee’s partnership with Kingnet is unrelated, that particular industry could change as more and more games gain outreach. We’ll have to wait and see!

“Mos Eisley spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.”
–Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars: A New Hope

Fantasy Flight Games has released the Mos Eisley Back Alleys Skirmish Map for Imperial Assault. Players will have a chance to explore the seedy underworld of the back alleys while the rubber backed playmat provides a quick setup for Mos Eisley the included missions. The playmat  is available for retail purchase now.

Included with playmat purchase are two mission cards related to the skirmish map, adding new objectives with a focus on the valuable crates that can be found in Mos Eisley. In the first scenario, players are vying for crate control while doors become unlocked. In the second scenario players attempt to retrieve crates and haul them back tho their personal stash.

Seven previous Imperial Assault Skirmish Maps have taken players to a variety of locations including;

About Imperial Assault

Star Wars: Imperial Assault is a strategy board game featuring tactical combat and missions set in the Star Wars universe for two to five players.

The game features two distinct games. The first is a campaign game that takes players through long-form tales set in the Star Wars universe with players taking on the roles of Rebels battling either an Imperial overlord or an app controlled overlord. Through a multi-mission campaign both the Imperial player and the Rebel heroes will have the opportunity to gain new experience and skills.

The other game, a single play skirmish game, allows players to build a team of Rebel or Imperial characters and battle head-to-head.

While everything 2-5 players need is in the base box, dozens of character packs as well as campaign expansions have been released for those who want to explore further into the Star Wars universe.

Fantasy Flight Games has announced that they will be releasing The Sword and the Spirits, a new novella by Robert Denton III set in the world of Legend of the Five Rings. Physical copies of the novella will include two exclusive alternate art cards for Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game.

The novella will focus on the Phoenix Clan and their investigation into an elemental disturbance and the possibly dark secrets of a vassal family located in the mountains. While investigating the murder, Isawa Tadaka and Shiba Tsukune will stumble upon a conspiracy ancient in nature.

Shiba Tsukune wasn’t supposed to become the Champion of the Phoenix Clan, but their ancient sword chose her. Trained as a samurai warrior, she was to be the bodyguard of Isawa Tadaka, a powerful shugenja—and the man she loved. Although her new duties have drawn them apart, she refuses to stand by and watch as Tadaka falls to the darkness within him.

Tsukune follows Tadaka north to Cliffside Shrine, home of the Kaito family, where he must investigate the mysterious death of a prominent priestess. All around them, the shrine shows signs of decay and desecration, and the wards that have bound an evil demon for centuries are fraying. What secrets are the Kaito family keeping? And can Tsukune save Tadaka from descending down a dark path before it’s too late?

Sword in the Spirits will include over 100 pages of tales designed to compliment Legends of the Five Rings lore. It will be released to coincide with Disciples of the Void, a Phoenix Clan Pack for Legends of the Five Rings: The Card Game.

In addition to the novella, The Sword and the Spirits will include two alternate art cards for Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game.

Kaito Kosori will be an alternate art card for a card debuting in Disciples of the Void. The cards will be the first time a character from Kaito family makes an appearance in Legends of the Five Rings: The Card Game. Kosori will honor the family tradition of bow use combined with mystical elements.

The Second card will feature extended art of Ofushikai, the sword that chose Shiba Tsukune as Clan Champion. Ofushukai is not included in Disciples of the Void, so for now will not be legal for Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game tournament play until it is released in a Dynasty Pack later in 2018.

About Legends of the Five Rings: The Card Game

Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game is a Living Card Game published by Fantasy Flight Games. The game is set in Rokugan, the original setting for the Legend of the Five Rings collectible card game published by AEG. Players create decks of clan specific cards from the base game and supplemental decks when preparing to do battle. Two players will battle for 45-90 minutes.

 

IDW Games, Steve Jackson Games, and Nickelodeon Consumer Products announce a new addition to the long running Munchkin series of card games: Munchkin Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

In Munchkin Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, players will play the roles of the Turtles and their friends. The card game features all-new art from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator, Kevin Eastman, along with artist Tadd Galusha, and gameplay developed by designer Jon Cohn.

Munchkin TMNT will come in three versions: standard, deluxe, and deluxe ultimate. All three will be supported by a Kickstarter campaign set to start on March 7th.  The deluxe and deluxe ultimate will be Kickstarter exclusives available only during the Kickstarter campaign.  The deluxe version will feature character standees and a fully illustrated mounted Level tracker. The deluxe ultimate version will feature variant, retro-style coloring reminiscent of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics. The standard version will be available in retail stores.

All versions of Munchkin Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are expected to be available in June 2018.

Last week we reported on the ICO Partners analysis of Kickstarter success that revealed Games to be the leading category on Kickstarter. This is not to say that the Games category does not have its share of failures. More than half do not reach funding, and there are still challenges to those that do.  Funded projects have a lot of expenses to cover in order to develop and deliver products to backers, and this includes shipping.  Shipping expenses to backer may vary widely and may change depending on what stretch goals are included.  Shipping and customs requirements and processing timelines may also affect delivery dates to customer.

NSKN Games, who have ran eleven successful Kickstarters such as Mistfall and Exodus, recently published 5 Shipping Tips for a Successful Kickstarter on their NSKN Blog that offer sage advice for Kickstarters.  They share their experiences and provide sound advice on how to establish campaign funding goals to sufficiently cover shipping costs and how to establish realistic campaign delivery dates.

Previously, NSKN Blog published Top 5 things to do before launching your first Kickstarter, and it has posted numerous advice for game developers. Read more from NSKN on http://blog.nskn.net/.

One thing that has been missing from farming games is the possibility of your farm being flooded.

That’s not the case anymore, once Lowlands from Z-Man Games is released.

In Lowlands, players are farmers in the lowlands near the North Sea, a rough area where people have to work hard just to get by. They are under a constant threat of flooding and heavy storms, banding together to create dikes to keep the rising tides away from their farms. These dikes will help everybody, but people have to strike a balance between staying on the farm benefiting the family and building the dikes to help the community.

This push and pull is pivotal in Lowlands

“In Lowlands, you carve your farm out of this unforgiving land, gathering and spending resource cards to transform your farmyard into pastures that allow you to profit from breeding sheep. Adding expansions to your farm will unlock new options and score you victory points, but helping to build the dike that collectively protects all players is also rewarded. No matter what, the tide will rise and, if the dike isn’t high enough, it could rush in and sweep away your hard-earned profits. Will you sacrifice your own farm for the good of the community, or will you pursue your own agenda? The choice is yours.”

Players will be given a group of farmers who will be assigned to various activities around the farm to help improve it, or tend the sheep and sell them for profits.

As the game progresses, players can add different sorts of tiles to their farm, taking it in the direction they want and earning victory points all the while. You can build feeding troughs to feed your sheep and bring more sheep in. Or you can build a cabin on the lake which will increase the point values of adjacent tiles.

In addition to farm improvements, your farmers and resources can be assigned to help build the dikes that will benefit everybody. The tide rises, new flood pieces are chosen, and players will struggle to keep the dike high enough to keep back the raging waters of the North Sea.

Helping with the dike will give players bonuses as well, so it’s not all selflessness.

Lowlands gives an added twist or two to the farming game genre.

No release date has been announced, unfortunately.

For more information on Lowlands, please check out the Z-Man Games article.